Memoir Made Simple 2017

Who: Amanda Hampson
6 x Sunday mornings: 5, 12, 19, 26 March; 2, 9 April 2017, 10am–1pm
Full Price: $600; Member: $420; Conc Member: $360
Level: All

Most people have interesting life stories or family history, and many toy with the idea of writing them – someday. Initially there are more questions than answers. Where to start? How to tell the story? What to include or leave out? What period should it cover?

Join Amanda Hampson, author of two novels and teacher of aspiring novelists, to learn how to apply the techniques of fiction, such as structure, pace, description and dialogue, to writing memoir and family history, and turn anecdotes and facts into a compelling story.

Drawing from her writing and teaching experience, her unique techniques will teach you how to turn your story into a great read. This course will cover everything from how to get your material organised, turn memories into stories, write dialogue and description and find your voice – and how to stay motivated.

This course will not only show you how to write your story but start you on the path.

Course Outline

Week One

  • Clarifying individual objectives – and challenges
  • Get organised: how to create the ultimate filing system
  • Tap into creativity with mind maps and timelines
  • Create a structure for your project
  • How to incorporating family history
  • Work out the why, when and where

Week Two

  • Set the scene with evocative description
  • How to bring scenes from the past to life
  • Exercises in writing scenes with people, places and seasons

Week Three

  • Bring a memento to this class and write a story around it
  • Learn how to use dialogue to bring stories to life
  • How to convert a ‘tell’ scene to ‘show’ with dialogue
  • Exercise with ‘lucky dip’ writing topics

Week Four

  • Tying description, dialogue and narrative together
  • Weaving personal values into your story
  • Exercises in writing about relationships and emotions

Week Five

  • Assessing your project and planning ahead
  • Creative session – writing to music
  • Exercises in writing scenes from different periods of life

Week Six

  • Rewriting and revision – how and when to self-edit
  • Options for self-publishing and traditional publishers
  • Goal setting for memoir completion

Every session will include writing exercises, a short reading and time for questions and interaction.


  • How to plan and organise your material
  • Find and create a unique structure for your book.
  • Turning fragments and anecdotes into a story.
  • How to stay motivated and find time to write.
  • Using dialogue, setting and description to bring your story to life.
  • Revision and editing your own work.
  • Finding a publisher or self-publishing your book.

Participant Requirements
Bring pen and plenty of paper.
Recommended: read Reckoning by Magda Szubanski prior to the first session.

About the tutor
Amanda Hampson is the author of two non-fiction books and two novels, including The Olive Sisters (2005) and Two for the Road (2008), published by Penguin Books and translated into a number of languages.

Her latest novel, The French Perfumer, will be published by Penguin Books in March 2017. She is currently working on her next novel, Madame Mathilde.

Amanda created her highly successful ‘Memoir Made Simple’ workshop six years ago to share the techniques of fiction writing with emerging writers who want to write a compelling memoir or family history. She has taught this simple but effective method to hundreds of writers, many of whom have successfully completed their manuscript and self-published their book as a legacy for descendants.

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